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Should the shops be shut on Boxing Day?

6 As the festive season commences, it is both a time that is loved and feared by the retail sector, bringing with it huge opportunities for profit while also being a hectic, busy and sleepless time of year for retail staff. As well as the run up to Christmas seeing high streets packed with present hunters, dates such as ‘black Friday’ and the Boxing Day sales are much anticipated by seasoned bargain hunters across the country. However, this year it seems that employers are reacting to this increasingly commercialised Christmas season, and a petition has launched urging stores to stay closed over Boxing Day to enable its workers to enjoy the festive break, gathering over 120,000 signatures at present. The petition needs 150,000 signatures in order to be delivered to the Prime Minister for review.

The case for closure

While now Boxing Day is synonymous with early starts, ques of shoppers and slashed prices, traditionally this is an additional day for resting and relaxation with friends and family. It is also said that the holiday gets its name as this was the time when even servants were given a day off from waiting on aristocracy, centuries ago. Employers would ‘box’ up gifts, ready to be distributed to staff, spreading Christmas cheer but while its origins lie in giving servants a break, the constant commercialisation of Christmas has seen this day of rest become another day of work for the retail sector.

The view of those working in stores can be seen on the petition’s web page, with many stating how it is unnecessary to stay open on this day, especially after such a difficult and fast-paced run up to Christmas day.

What are your thoughts?

As a manager or owner of a retail outlet, deciding which action to take may be difficult. Legally, there is nothing stopping shops from opening on this day, with only Christmas Day being banned throughout the festive season. What’s more, the opportunity for profit during this sale season is also very apparent. However, would opening up on Boxing Day, with staff that are so openly against it, do more damage to productivity, efficiency and finances due to the lack of morale and stance against it?

When speaking to The Independent, the British Retail Consortium has said that we are set to see different outcomes of this petition, as individual companies will decide their opening hours based on ‘customers’ needs and preferences.’ But in an age of online shopping, do our physical stores even need to be open at all to meet the demand for a bargain?

Do you work in retail? What are your thoughts? Let us know in our comments below.